This morning when I awoke the thinnest sliver of perspective stood between Thursday starting as a good day or a bad day.
On the face of things it was a recipie for a bad mood. I’d had a warning on my car to get my brake discs checked for several days. It only flicked on when I hit potholes or bumps in the road, and there was no noticeable sign of difficulty when I braked.
I’d reasoned it could be one of two things – either the sensor was broken and there was a REAL problem that I was intermittently being made aware of or there was no problem at all and it was telling me porky pies.
One would cost – one would not. Either way, since I’m going to Cardiff at the weekend it was a good idea to get it checked over just in case.
So – back to perspective.
I woke up really early – 6.30am as it happens. This used to be a worst case scenario when I worked late shifts. Typically I had a hangover and didn’t really need to get out of bed until 9.45. This usually made me grumpy.
Not so today. The sun was shining outside and my room was filled with natural light. I’d only had about 6 hours sleep, but I felt good, and the day had started naturally without any alarms or rushing about.
Yesterday was mom’s birthday – the first since she died, and I was still thinking about it a little. However I did what I intended yesterday and tried to talk and think positively about her. I’d held a memory of her in the garden on a summer evening in my head every time I thought negatively and it made me feel good. I’d also listened to her favourite track – Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Albatross’ on the way home from work a few times and it has relaxed me rather than making me want to cry.
The fallout of this conscious effort to be positive appeared to still be in evidence this morning. I’d NEVER spent the day being positive about her or her memory and it was a really nice feeling. I was oddly proud that I had managed to do it.
After my morning routine I headed downstairs for coffee. Kwik Fit opened at 8.30am and I aimed to be at the front of the queue so I wasn’t late for work.
Surprisingly all the traffic was going the opposite way. Absolutely nothing got in my way. I didn’t wait at a single junction and no traffic light impeded my progress.
Moreover I’d burned a CD of uplifting bouncy music, and at full blast I felt like king of the bass pumpin’ road dammit!
When I arrived at Kwik Fit there were already several people in the queue ahead of me. All of them were looking at their watches and seemed stressed and miserable.
When the door finally opened they crammed into the tiny office and around the single manned reception desk, all staring disapprovingly at the back of each others heads. Maybe they had arrived in a different order and someone had jumped the queue? There was definitely an atmosphere, and the guy on the desk with an impressive beard was feeling it.
One by one he took their details and asked for their car registration number. One after another they replied they didn’t know it, and asked if he really needed it.
‘Yes please’ said the man patiently for the third time to the Eastern European woman in front of me as the other two took their seats to wait.
She huffed, walked out to her car, read the number plate and memorised it, before walking back to the door. She stopped. Looked forgetful, walked back to her car, checked again, started repeating the number plate to herself and came back inside.
‘What’s the problem?’ Said the man after noting the registration.
‘Puncture!’ She said triumphantly.
‘Which tyre?’ He replied.
Silence. This level of required detail was unexpected – and was something she was unprepared for. She closed her eyes, clearly trying to visualise the car, and putting an imaginary hand on an imaginary gearstick.
‘The right one.’ She replied.
‘Which right one?’ He asked.
She thought for a moment and then decided it best to verify this and once again walked out to her car, which looked like it had been driven through a wall, despite being only a year old.
‘The back’ she stated triumphantly on her return.
The patient bearded man completed the paperwork, took her number and stared impassively at her as she left. She would pick up the car (amazingly it was a lease hire) after midday. She wanted to do some shopping and would be wandering into Leamington.
I was next in line. I decided to up the ante.
‘Good morning!’ I beamed with a big grin.
He looked at me grinning at him. So far no-one had smiled at him, said hello, or wished him a good day.
‘How are you doing?’ I asked, and waited for an answer.
‘Good thanks – how about you?’
‘Pretty good actually! It looks like it’s going to be a nice day out there!
He smiled back and agreed. It did look like a nice day.
The man took my details and keys and apologised for the wait – it may take a little while to look at my brakes, but he’d get it seen to as quick as he could. I told him I was happy to wait in the office – I was going to read and enjoy the morning. He nodded at me and smiled again.
I watched him walk straight out to the workshop, give a guy my keys and point to my car.
Within 5 minutes my car was on the ramps and under inspection. Within 15 I was called into the workshop to inspect the issue. The sensor was broken but the pad was absolutely fine. If I could live with the warning light there was nothing to worry about.
I asked how much the pad would be and quickly decided I didn’t want to waste £120 to get rid of an irritating light on my dashboard. It would instead keep me company while I drove.
The mechanic started to put my wheel back on and I went to settle up with the beardy man at the desk.
‘How much do I owe for the inspection?’ I asked
‘Nothing – free of charge.’ He said.
‘Lovely! I said ‘Well – have a nice day!’ I said, grinning again as I shook his hand and left the office to pick up my car.
All the people before me still had cars waiting to be seen. They still looked miserable.
The mechanic from the workshop pulled up in my car and silently handed me my keys, looking at the floor.
‘Thanks!’ I said. ‘I really appreciate the checks and the explanation – hope you have a good rest of the day!’
He smiled too, temporarily taken aback that I’d taken the time to be nice to him. ‘You too.’ He smiled back. It wasn’t a huge smile but it was a start. Maybe his day would get better.
I left – happy that I’d paid no money, glad that I’d gotten up early, happy I’d made two people smile and realised I had time to pop to Starbucks for a coffee before I went to work.
The sun was still shining, and I turned up the music as I drove off. I was also going to make the barista smile when I bought my coffee. That was my next task.
It didn’t matter what the rest of the day was like. I felt good and l think for a brief moment I made some other people feel good as well.
A good mood should be shared like a meal with friends. It should never be kept to yourself, and it spreads like a virus.
Smile at someone today Internet. You know it makes sense!